10 Questions with ... Ken West
November 27, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Intern at WZLX. Stayed there for 10 years and did everything from answer phones (listener line and front desk,) van driver, promotions, board-op, production assistant, morning show producer, and Assistant Music Director. Had the pleasure of working with such legends as the late GREAT George Taylor Morris, Charles Laquidara, Carter Alan, Chuck Nowlin, and of course, Buzz Knight. Came to Greater Media in 2002 as APD of WROR. Became PD of WROR in 2006 and PD of WBOS (Radio 92.9) in 2009.
1. What are you most proud of from the latest WBOS ratings?
The last monthly (October 2012) gave us the highest A25-54 share the station has had in the PPM era (maybe even ever.) I'm proud of that because we built this thing from the ground up and have made it this far. It shows me we can take it even higher.
2. What makes WBOS and WROR successful stations in Boston?
At their best, they both stay true to their missions of delivering unique local programming. Radio 92.9 delivers an uncluttered mix of classic alternative and new music, along with concert information, music news, and one-of-a-kind listener experiences for Boston music fans. WROR starts out with Loren & Wally and delivers a fun, upbeat mix of classic hits, entertainment and connection to the community.
3. Give us a little insight into your staff and why Radio 92.9 is jockless?
We are "jockless" in the sense that that we don't have personalities talking about what they ate last night or why their significant other bothers them. But we do have hosts who introduce new music, announce concerts, and invite listeners to hang backstage with their favorite artists. It's not devoid of humans; it's just devoid of clutter. The staff on the air and behind the scenes understands this challenge and does a fantastic job of building the human connection through writing, web content, and social media and street interactions. From the outside, it might seem easier to run a station like this, but it requires discipline and extra thought to execute this style of radio correctly. The audience will call you out if you steer it away from the brand promise.
4. What may surprise people the most about the station?
A lot of people who work for other stations tell me they love it or it are their favorite.
5. What is most important to you when championing new music for Radio 92.9?
It's really a group effort. Paul Jarvis (Radio 92.9 APD/MD) really loves discovering new music and sharing it with the staff. So we follow his lead. Most importantly, it has to feel right for the audience. Unlike some alt stations, we don't have the space for every new song or artist. We try to pick the ones that have the biggest chance at long-term success and mass appeal.
6. Tell us about the station's My Daily Playlist feature?
We love this because it puts the audience in charge. A listener picks their five favorite songs at myradio929.com. We call them and record them introducing the songs. It runs at 9a, 2p, and 9p, so they can tell their friends via their social networks to listen. We recently had a soldier in Afghanistan do a playlist. He and his squad mates shared the song picks. They said they stream the station for "a little taste of home."
7. What is Inside Radio 92.9 all about?
Inside Radio 92.9 is a place on myradio929com where listeners can get everything Radio 92.9. Artist Interviews, performances, streaming audio, the playlist, concerts, events, etc. It's the one-step door that opens everything.
8. What do you love the most about your job?
It's fun! Anyone in radio reading this who doesn't agree might want to look for another place to work. This is supposed to be fun. Sure it's challenging, sure it's hard work, and sure some days are better than others. But surround yourself with great people who understand what needs to be done and can do it, and let the fun begin.
9. How are you using Social Media?
Social Media is extremely important to the Radio 92.9 mission. With limited on-air talk, it's a place where we can "humanize" the station even more. We use it to talk to the audience about music, local and current events, concerts, etc. It's the way we get most of our audience input.
10. What has been your biggest accomplishment at Greater Media?
I feel most proud when one of our teams does something for the community. Recently, Radio 92.9 teamed up with local charity Calling All Crows (and the band Dispatch) to paint an arts school in Boston. And at WROR, we are currently selling Loren & Wally dashboard statues and giving the money to the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief fund (almost raised $20,000.) Personal accomplishments are nice, but I feel best when we "use our powers for good" as someone commented to me the other day.
When you're away from both stations, what are your personal radio listening preferences?
I actually listen to a lot of Radio 92.9. My kids (11 and 8) love it and sing along with all of the songs. They also critique my imaging writing skills, which makes it a little harder to listen like a listener.